It's easy to mock Zynga right now as it starts to grip its stomach and collapse—but where were the skeptics before the IPO boom and bust? Too busy heaping praise on a company that sold virtual hay bales on Facebook—and it sure looks bad in retrospect.

Seems hard to believe, right? Only a few years ago, plenty of informed, sharp, and above all influential minds—people who should have known better—thought Zynga was the start of something tremendous. It would be the harbinger of a new gaming economy, a Facebook cash cow, and a business model that had longevity beyond its spammy, scammy tactics.

None of this turned out to be true, of course—and it shouldn't have been outrageous to question a $7 billion valuation of the company that made FarmVille. Instead, we got this:

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Will Zynga Become the Google of Games? — New York Times, 2010

During the spring of 2009, Zynga developers logged long hours in their aging Potrero Hill offices, furiously coding a new game that would cement the young company's lead in the nascent social gaming space.

FarmVille offered players a pastoral respite from daily stresses, a chance to plant seeds, harvest crops and raise barns with friends.

"We had a fundamental belief that, if people found games at their fingertips, if you really reduced the barriers to entry to games and you made them social, then a much larger group would engage," said Mark Pincus, 44, who founded Zynga in January 2007.

He was indisputably farsighted in recognizing the opportunity, and has been rewarded with a company that could pull down a half-billion dollars in revenue in its fourth year. — San Francisco Chronicle, 2010. Holy moly, emphasis added.

"Silicon Valley has a history of brash and sometimes flawed entrepreneurs doing great things. Sometimes it’s those flaws that drive them to success. So I’ll continue to kiss the Mark Pincus ring..." — Michael Arrington, 2010

"Zynga Is Four Disruptions In One" — Former Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer, current Kleiner Perkins partner Bing Gordon, 2010

“We are pleased to enter into a new agreement with Zynga to enhance the experience for Facebook users who play Zynga games. We look forward to continuing our work with Zynga." — Sheryl Sandberg, after Facebook inked a 5 year partnership with Zynga, 2010

Google investor John Doerr: Zynga is our best company ever; “Zynga is the model” of success for entrepreneurs to follow Doerr said. — VentureBeat, 2010

Zynga's Latest Gimmick Is Actually A Really Good Idea Read — Business Insider, 2011

"I Think the [Zynga's] virtual goods model is a sustainable model." — Fred Wilson, 2012

Wilson has been pretty quiet today.